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Summary:

The New York Times’ share of total page views to newspaper websites dropped by its largest margin in more than a year in April, the first fu…

New York Times
photo: Flickr / Omad

The New York Times‘ share of total page views to newspaper websites dropped by its largest margin in more than a year in April, the first full month that it had its paywall up. ComScore (NSDQ: SCOR) data shows that the NYT‘s share of newspaper website traffic was 10.6 percent last month, down from 13 percent in March and 13.5 percent in May 2010.

The newspaper site’s overall page views plunged 24 percent, while unique visitors were off 13 percent, although the NYT tells AdAge that those big drop offs can be attributed in part to a slow news month after a busy March. Indeed, the comScore data shows that overall traffic to newspaper websites was down, albeit to a lesser extent. Page views to newspaper websites in the U.S. fell 7 percent in April, while unique visitors dropped 0.3 percent.

The comScore figures seem to be in line with an earlier, more limited report by Experian Hitwise, which showed that visits to the NYT website were down as much as 15 percent each day and page views were off as much as 30 percent each day during the 12 days following the paywall’s launch, compared to days during the previous period.

The New York Times (NYSE: NYT) has never said exactly how much of a hit it expected to take to page views and unique visitors under its paywall plan, which limits visitors to 20 articles a month before they are prompted to pay up. Executives have said that the traffic fall-off they have seen to date has been better than expected. They reiterated that to AdAge, telling the publication that “these are actually better numbers than our internal projections.”

  1. A newspaper needs eyeballs to court advertisers and subscribers to pay for infrastructure. It’s a fine line to balance … IMHO the NYT’s and others will have to choose which model to embrace … my bet: get the eyeballs and all else follows (if you’re innovative to create models that fit the future)

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  2. Greg Golebiewski Wednesday, May 11, 2011

    OK, now it is manipulation. Tartakoff writes:
    The comScore figures seem to be in line with an earlier, more limited report by Experian Hitwise, which showed that visits to the NYT website were down as much as 15 percent each day and page views were off as much as 30 percent each day during the 12 days following the paywall’s launch, compared to days during the previous period.

    But this in not what Experian Hitwise reported. It is not even what the same Tartakoff wrote a few weeks ago in regard to NYT traffic figures:

    “It does not appear as though the daily drop off in visitors has accelerated in April as this month has progressed. Instead, the daily decrease seems to have stayed steady at between 5 percent and 10 percent a day.” And, on one day during that period it actually went up some 7%, I have to add.

    Why do you insist on misinterpreting data and misinforming readers? What is your agenda?

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  3. Joseph Tartakoff Wednesday, May 11, 2011

    To clarify: Both reports show declines of similar scale in page views and visitors.

    – Joe Tartakoff, paidContent

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    1. Greg Golebiewski Thursday, May 12, 2011

      Yeah, sure, Joe, minus 15 and plus 7 it is about the same… Here is my version of your reporting, only if I were to prove the opposite — that the NYT subscription plan (not a paywall, you see) is a great success:

      “An earlier report by Experian Hitwise showed that visits to the NYT website were up as much as 7 percent, compared to days during the period before the new subs were launched. This great result was a huge surprise, as it came at the last day of the 12-day study period, or in times were most of the free subs would have expired.

      Our own poll done earlier in cooperation with Harris (PCUK/Harris Poll), predicted that the subs would be a total disaster. No more than 5% of regular press readers would buy online content. We were totally wrong, but we will insist that (somehow) we are right — our readers are stupid after all”

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  4.  Aside from Greg’s arguments (pretty interesting I must add, and I’m waiting for PC’s response) I wonder how news about Osama affected the NYT’s traffic. This must have been a good test of the paywall. We’ll see by the end of the month.

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